Beyond Fingersticks

Thirty years ago I was peeing on test strips to assess my diabetes management (a revolution for those who had to use a chemistry kit).  Within the next few years I was measuring my blood sugar instead of urine, and had machines that spit an actual number at me.  A relevant, actionable number as current as the two minutes it took to do the test.

It was still hard to manage any immediate changes, as the tools available were slow (Regular and NPH Insulin).  It was more about watching trends than making sliding scale adjustments.  Doesn’t the idea of making adjustments at night or first thing in the morning to combat a low or high the next day sound crazy?  But that was the reality of it.  Sort of like having to park a cruise ship at the cabin dock.

As faster insulins hit the shelves, and more sophisticated delivery tools were developed, I started doing more with those blood sugar numbers.  I could be a little more proactive, and make changes to my insulin dose that I would actually see in the next 2-3 hours.  It was a shift in the way I thought about the information I was getting from my blood sugar machine.

We’re ready for another shift.  With continuous glucose monitors maturing and a stronger push for insurance coverage, they will hopefully be commonplace soon.  But the amount of data they spew can be overwhelming.  We need to learn how to cope with so much information.  We need to look… Beyond Fingersticks.

I love Wil, and I’m a fan of all his writing.  It wouldn’t be a fair review if I didn’t disclose that I’m certainly biased here.  I can’t help it!  But now at least you know, right?

Wil quickly builds a house of CGM information.  Foundation, Floor, Walls, and Roof.   Those are, literally, the section titles.  Each section goes on to have chapters like “11. Daily Life“, “12. Travel with CGM“, and “13. Living with, and loving, CGM“.

The book is full of practical, daily-use knowledge, as well as higher level, more philosophical thoughts around this new technology we are using.

As one of the first 30 people in the world using CGM in the real world, Wil has learned more than anyone I know about living with CGM, using it to improve diabetes management, and preventing hypoglycemic unawareness from killing him (scary thought, right?).

What you now hold in your hands is the result of hard work, due diligence, and the artistic skills of a dedicated individual. (from the forward, by Howard Zisser, MD)

Besides all of the great information, I also loved the artwork and quote/phrase choices for each chapter.  They seemed so fitting!


The thing that sticks with me most from the book?  That our blood sugars are chaos.  They are living, moving, fluid, always changing.  Looking at them as a single number does us no good.  Learning to see them differently is one of the many things Wil does well in this book, quite possibly his best work yet.  Buy one, borrow one, steal one (check the library first though!).  If you have a CGM, or are thinking about a CGM, I highly recommend reading this.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…